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How product reviews influence online shopping

Everything (well, almost!) can be bought with a click of a button. Name it and it’s delivered at your doorstep. And, most of us have a standard procedure that we religiously follow before making a purchase. One important element that we always look for during online shopping before buying a product is a feedback or a review. They comfort us and give a sense of security before we take the plunge, right?

While scanning a shopping website, our eyes look for two kinds of content — producer-generated and user-generated. Producer-generated content helps us navigate and zero in on products while user-generated content (UGC) helps us make informed decisions by getting us to know the products better. One such UGC is a review of a product.

How does a feedback or a review influence our buying decision?

We stumbled upon this paper that aimed to propose “a framework to investigate the influence of UGC on consumer’s online product purchase intention.” It  also talks about how brands have started embracing social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to conduct business.

Understanding user-generated content

It says, “UGC or also known as electronic word–of–mouth (eWOM) works exactly like common word–of–mouth except that it spreads input through an online medium.” User-generated content is likely to be less biased and based on experience which makes it a key tool in identifying the quality of a product. We believe that UGC is trustworthy as these comments have no vested or commercial interests. And, “positive consumer’s attitude towards content generated by others and browsing experience will enhance the probability of purchase.”

Perceived credibility

Users perceive UGC as a source of credible information. And, this is precisely why many brands are taking to social media and asking influencers to promote their brands. It mainly comprises expertise and trustworthiness. UGC from an established player in your circle is far more likely to make you believe in the product than a celebrity endorsing it.

Perceived risk

Risks can be reduced by making informed decisions. And, to make an informed choice, we generally depend on a variety of UGC to ascertain the general line of feedback — either good or bad. Then, we dig further to see the pros and cons, and compare it with other products’ reviews. This helps us eliminate the risks involved in online shopping where there are very less ways to make sense of the product. The study says, “ there are different types or facets of perceived risk such as performance risk, financial risk, time risk, psychological risk, social risk, privacy risk, source risk and overall risk.”

Perceived usefulness

“Perceived usefulness is defined as the degree to which a person believes that the use of a system would improve one performance.” It is a factor that affects users’ attitudes and leads to successful transaction. It is associated with quick, efficient, and ease with which UGC can be accessed.

Based on these concepts, a framework was established to understand the different forces at play during online shopping — especially on how UGC can lead to purchase of a product. Here’s a rough sketch of it:

 

Online shopping
Image: The Impact of User – Generated Content (UGC) on Product
Reviews towards Online Purchasing – A Conceptual Framework

 

Tell us what you think of it? Have you been through this exercise? If so, tell us if this framework holds any credibility.

Also read: What drives online retail sales?

Reference(s):

The Impact of User – Generated Content (UGC) on Product Reviews towards Online Purchasing – A Conceptual Framework Azlin Zanariah Bahtar, Mazzini Muda

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